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N. Korea, Trump's Asia policy to top agenda in Shanggri-La Dialogue

All News 10:09 June 02, 2017

By Lee Chi-dong

SINGAPORE June 2 (Yonhap) -- Singapore prepared Friday to greet top defense officials from South Korea, the United States and two dozen other countries for Asia's most high-profile security forum.

The three-day Asia Security Summit, also known as the Shanggri-La Dialogue, is slated to kick off at night with a special address by Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

Security guards, armed with rifles, were deployed around the venue, the Shangri-La Hotel in this city state.

South Korean Defense Minister Han Min-koo (C) leaves Incheon International Airport for Singapore on June 2, 2017, to attend the Asia Security Summit. (Yonhap)

This year's session comes amid North Korea's unrelenting provocations highlighted by a series of ballistic missile launches.

"The North Korea issue is traditionally a top agenda item of the annual conference," South Korea's Ambassador to Singapore Lee Sang-deok said, although the communist country has been absent from the forum launched in 2002.

Keen attention will also be paid to the Donald Trump administration's policy on Asia.

China has been stepping up efforts to improve relations with Southeast Asian countries after an era of Washington's "Asia rebalancing" or "Asia pivot" strategy under the Obama administration.

"Just as Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia is a spot for deep diplomatic rivalry between the U.S. and China," Lee pointed out.

The U.S. will be represented by Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, with China sending a military general as its chief delegate.

China is expected to maintain a relatively low-key approach on the South China Sea issue at this year's session.

South Korean Defense Minster Han Min-koo is also among participants.

He is scheduled to arrive here in the afternoon and soon start official activities with bilateral meetings with his Australian and Indonesian counterparts.

On Saturday, Han plans to meet bilaterally with the U.S. secretary to discuss pending alliance issues, apparently including the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense system in South Korea.

Organized by the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), a British think tank, the Shanggri-La Dialogue draws defense ministers, military chiefs and other representatives from Asia, Europe and America.

It involves defense ministers, military chiefs and other representatives from Asia, Europe and America. More than 30 countries participated in last year's meeting.


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